You’ve been arrested and charged with a crime. For whatever the reason, you’re strongly considering a plea deal with the prosecution. Since the offer from the state on the table seems decent, do you really need an attorney to help you?

You probably do. Here are some reasons why:

The first offer is seldom the best offer the state can make.

Around 90% of the convictions obtained by the state are through plea deals. Without plea deals, the courts would be clogged (even more than they already are) with cases waiting for trial. This, plus the desire to keep their conviction rates high, puts significant pressure on prosecutors to make deals. Just the same, you can’t expect their first offer to be their best offer. Like anybody hoping to make a deal, prosecutors tend to offer less than they’re willing to give so that they have room to bargain.

You probably don’t know where there’s leeway in the sentence.

In some areas, plea deals for “high-volume offenses” can be standardized. That does not mean, however, that there’s no room for negotiation. There may be options that are considered acceptable alternatives and leeway in the conditions you’ll have to meet. For example, you may be able to negotiate the terms of your community service and what type of court-ordered classes you’re allowed to take as part of your deal.

Direct negotiations with the prosecutor could leave you exposed.

You can’t forget that the prosecutor is an officer of the court. Anything you say to the prosecution can be held against you in court. If you say the wrong thing during negotiations, you could find the plea deal withdrawn and yourself facing new charges.

Criminal defense attorneys don’t just protect your rights at trial. They can protect you at every step of the judicial process. Find out more about how an attorney can help you negotiate a better plea deal.